New Car Review: 2012 Infiniti QX56

Silver 2012 Infiniti QX56 with Sierra Nevada mountains in background
The 2012 Infiniti QX56.

You are looking at a thing of beauty.

It's just behind that hulking SUV.

It's the Eastern High Sierra of California, where I was fortunate enough to grow up between the ages of 9 and 18. Some of those mountain peaks top 14,000 feet...especially dramatic since the Owens Valley floor is only about 4,000.

I have fond memories.

Now, about the hulking SUV.

It is the Infiniti QX56. It spent years as simply a gussied-up version of the Nissan Armada but has, in its latest iteration taken things well beyond that. It's as though Infiniti got caught in a time warp and decided an '02 Lincoln Navigator was its benchmark.

Rear three-quarters view of the 2012 Infiniti QX56.

There was a time when this kind of one-upsmanship was the key to success...the way to the "hers" peg on the kitchen wall that holds the keys to the Mommymobile in the upwardly mobile McMansion.

But there's a recession on. Gas is $3.67 a gallon near TireKicker World Headquarters in Phoenix ($4.19 for name brand stuff in the area where Nissan's PR people snapped these photos), and the EPA says the QX56 is good for 14 miles per gallon in the city and 20 on the highway.

Underneath the boldface "14" and "20" on the window sticker in much smaller type are the words "Expected range for most drivers". Squint and you'll see 11 to 17 MPG city, 16 to 24 highway.

Wanna know what we got?

In just under 600 miles of combined city street and urban freeway driving, the QX56 delivered....12.9.
And let me tell you, it took some coasting on downhill stretches of uncrowded freeway to do that. Day one was nothing but stop and go city streets for about 55 miles...and when I parked it that night, the average was 8.8.

Time was (back around the time I lived in the Eastern High Sierra, come to think of it), you needed a 1969 Imperial with the 440 four-barrel to burn through those quantities of fossil fuel. Hell, 8.8 MPG on city streets is only 1.8 better than I did a few years ago driving a Dodge Viper around in second gear all day long.

The 2012 Infiniti QX56 interior.

For $61,800 you get all the standard equipment anyone can imagine (I'll save the pixels and just send you to Infiniti's XQ56 page for the details) .

Except...that nothing succeeds like excess...and Infiniti found another 13-thousand dollars and change worth of options to pack onto our tester...a theater package, a technology package, a deluxe touring package, cargo mat, cargo net, first aid kit and.....I think this is a first for TireKicker....22-inch wheels.              

Bottom line with $990.00 for destination charges: $75,340.

If the housing bubble hadn't burst, if the economy hadn't been where it's been the past four years....this might be king of the hill (Motor Trend's term for their annual comparisons of Lincolns and Cadillacs in the 60s and 70s).  If you've been fortunate during this time, and this is where you want to put your money, I can't fault you...it's close to the ultimate rig (if we're judging by Lincoln Navigator/Cadillac Escalade standards). But the world has changed in profound ways...and the QX56 just feels out of step.